Being a maternity and newborn photographer I get to listen to all the ups and downs of motherhood from my clients. I love that my clients feel comfortable opening up to me about some of their struggles, but the one re-ocurring thing they all say is that they feel ashamed to turn to their girlfriends to express themselves because they are afraid of being judged or labeled as an unfit mom.
The stress that is on us to be perfect has got to stop. Yes, some of it we do to ourselves but a lot of it comes from unreal expectations that people see in the media. I am far for a perfect mom. It took me a couple years to be open with my struggles but now I realize we are all drowning in this sea of emotions that is motherhood. We need to stop hiding and speak up because this journey is hard and no matter how many books we read nothing prepares us for it all. If I sat down and actually counted, I know I probably would have a million dirty truths but I will only talk about my top five for now!
1. When my twins were born I only bonded with one right away.
For the longest time I felt ashamed to even think that! But it is true, I only bonded with one and it took me eight months to bond with the other one. Everything we learn makes it seem like we are supposed to just have this instantaneous magical connection with these strangers. Looking back, I wish I had just said that out loud to someone.
2. I suffered from postpartum, but I wasn't depressed I was manic.
While I was I the thick of it I had no idea it was postpartum. Everyone always talks about the depression and the disconnected feelings but I did not have that. I was angry and irrational all the time. My anxiety levels were through the roof. One of my friends bought me windex as a present because I every time he saw me I was obsessively cleaning. The day I knew something wasn't right was when I packed my bags, got in my car and was ready to just drive away to find a new life.
3. I could not breastfeed.
I think this is the biggest stress for new moms today. We all hear breast is best and if we don't or can't breastfeed we are basically looked at as pariahs. For a long time I felt like a failure, like I couldn't provide the most basic essentials to my kids. But we live in the 21st century, there are plenty of alternatives out there that will do just as good a job.
4.I sleep trained my kids at 4 months old.
Yes, there are a million studies out there that says don't let a baby cry.Well, I let my babies cry and they figured it out. My husband on the other hand could not bear to listen to them cry. I made him leave the house until they settled down. (What is sleep training you ask? Read about it here.)
5.When my kids fall down I don't always run to help them up.
Now don't get me wrong, it's sad to see them fall and get hurt but what will running to rescue them every time teach them? One day I won't be there to rescue them and they need to sit with their feelings and learn how to get back up on their own.
Phew, there. That was a lot to put into words. Motherhood should not be isolating. We need each other to get through the tough years. If you see a friend struggling let her know that there is always an open line to communicate to. Sometimes all we need is to say something out loud to feel better.
~Side note, all of these photos are from our phones so they aren't the best quality!